The Hunger Games: A Book Review
The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, is a fiction in the Youth Adult (YA) Fantasy genre.
Let me be clear, I am not a young adult. In fact, I am a more than a few years past middle-aged. I was immediately completely engrossed in this novel and devoured it feverishly until it was complete. The Hunger Games is so addictive because it draws the reader into a dramatic plot while introducing compelling characters.
The novel is narrated by the main character, a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen. When the book opens, it is seemingly the future, after a great war. What remains is divided into twelve districts, collectively known as Panem that are governed by The Capital. Katniss, from District 12, volunteers to take her sister, Prim’s, place in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a gladiator-like fight to the death among “tributes” two from each of the twelve districts. The tributes must be less than eighteen. The games are televised and presented as entertainment while being controlled by The Capital.
To survive, Katniss must win the games. By rule, only one tribute will be left at the end of the games. Complicating the dire odds are friendships and alliances formed along the way. Katniss brings to the games excellent hunting skills and an instinct for survival. She hunted and scrounged for food to keep her family going through very lean times. Her father was killed in a mining accident when she was young.
Especially relevant is that as the novel progresses it is very clear that there is a gross disparity in the wealth of the citizenry in the capital and those in the districts. Each of the districts is kept separate from the others. And, contributes some sort of agricultural or mineral products to the capital. The Capital controls every aspect of the districts to maintain a vise-like grip on the people.
The Other Characters
Other characters of note are Gale, Katniss’ best friend from District 12. He is her friend, hunting partner, and though not yet fully evident, her love interest. He represents much of what her home district means to her.
Peeta is the other tribute from District 12. He is an adversary with whom Katniss forms an alliance and a seemingly romantic relationship as well.
Haymitch Abernathy is the only Hunger Games victor who is still alive from District 12. He is Katniss and Peeta’s mentor in the games.
In addition, other notables are Panem President Snow, Effie Trinket, the District 12 escort for the tributes, and Katniss’s sister Primrose (Prim).
Consequently, the Hunger Games will appeal to teens 13 and older and just about anyone who enjoys fantasy. The novel contains some strong emotional themes and violence so I don’t recommend it for those younger than 13.
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media, gives it five stars, saying,
For her first young-adult novel, Collins has mixed together elements both classical and modern to produce a story that, if not entirely new, nevertheless bears her unique imprint.
In spite of all that I loved about this book, I did find one of the central tensions, the love triangle, very lame. The love triangle was very tired to me and while it drove the plot forward and added to the suspense, I didn’t find it very believable.
The Hunger Games: From Print to Big Screen
For me, this book was as huge a hit as it was for the general YA populace that made it and the movie such a huge success and I recommend it heartily. The novel explores many important themes such as poverty, the role of government, teenage angst, the search for identity, and the heroes journey. The action in the book drives the plot forward quickly and the writing is witty and straightforward.
Watch the 2012 movie trailer: